Blog, Life Skills, Special Needs, Uncategorized

How ‘Georgisms’ Can Help our Kids Succeed|The Importance of Executive Functioning #historyrocks #adulting

Have you ever witnessed a living miracle unfold before your very eyes?

To me, my middle school aged son on the autism spectrum, giving his very first speech in his Classical Conversations class a few weeks ago was miracle enough. His speech was short and he had trouble looking at the audience, but I didn’t care. He overcame his social anxiety, and I beamed at this huge step in his development.

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In class yesterday, he did something that made my jaw drop.

The opening to his speech went like this:

“Do you know how my mom is like our first president? (three second pause) Because she’s always washing a ton!”

His whole class—the kids, the teacher, the other mothers—all laughed.

He had his audience in the palm of his hand.

Then he turned serious and shared how as a boy, Washington accidentally killed his mother’s favorite colt.

All eyes were on my son as he projected his voice, stood confidently, and shared for a minute and a half about the trials and triumphs of our first president.

I sat mesmerized, in awe at my son’s transformation.

My only regret is that I forgot to get out my phone and take a video!

He’s learning. He’s growing. I think he’s going to do all right in life. He may not be president of the United States when he grows up, but I believe by the grace of God, he’ll do something to make a difference in our world.

Have you ever wondered how George Washington became our first president, trusted by the colonists who shed their blood, sweat and tears to create a whole new country set apart from the rule of the King of England?

From historical accounts of his life, we can know that George Washington was a man in control of his words, his body, and his actions.

When he was fourteen years old, Washington wrote out 110 rules to live by.

These rules laid a foundation or framework for him to advance to the highest position in the United States of America. They helped him to be dignifieddiplomatic and wise beyond his years.

Nowadays, we call this executive functioning.

Washington was singled out for a job that men much older than himself usually did. In 1749, at the age seventeen, he became a surveyor and mapped out land for his employers.

From there, in 1755, Washington had moved up the ranks in the military and was awarded the position of Colonel of the Virginia Regiment during the French and Indian War (also called the Seven Years War, 1754-1758).

From years serving in the military, Washington gained leadership skills. He understood British military strategies which would help him later when he became the General of the Continental Army.

America had had enough of England’s “taxation without representation” and the colonial patriots were gaining more support to rebel against English rule and become their own independent country, The United States of America.

After the Battles of Lexington and Concord, the Continental Army formed. George Washington was appointed General of the Continental Army and Commander-in-Chief.

As General of the Continental Army, Washington’s first great victory was against the Hessian army (German soldiers hired by the British). Washington chose to execute a sneak attack on the night of Christmas 1776. He crossed the Delaware River to Trenton, New Jersey and captured nearly 1,000 Hessians.

By 1777, The Continental Army had grown to 11,000 men. During the winter at Valley Forge, north of Philidelphia, Pennsylvania, about 2,000-3,000 men died from the harsh winter and lack of supplies. Washington stayed with his men, suffering along with them and used this time to train them with the help of Inspector General von Steuben.

With the help of French troops, supplies and naval forces, in 1781, British General Cornwallis was trapped and surrendered at Yorktown, Virginia, ending any further hostilities from England.

When choosing the first leader of the United States, our founding fathers knew that Washington was the best man for the job.


On April 30, 1789, George Washington was voted by 100% of the electoral college to be the first president of the United States of America. He did not desire to be called “your majesty,” like King George III of England. He wanted The United States of America to be a democracy through and through and to be simply called, Mr. President.

Throughout his life, Washington relied on the rules of leadership that he learned at a young age. As he gained knowledge from both victory and failure, he matured and became the kind of leader our country needed, one who was both strong and reasonable.

In order to be successful adults, children need to learn the same skills that our first President learned. Attaining life skills, including proper etiquette, improve their executive function, which is a crucial element in allowing a person to mature and become a productive member of society. Even George Washington did not possess these skills on his own. He studied them, copied them and lived them out.

What We Can Learn from George Washington:

Developing a well-trained mind is crucial for making the best life decisions.

Focusing on the things that are important and organizing them in a step-by-step, systematic way to be used again later is the foundation of having good executive function. Washington did this with learning his 110 rules so well, he knew them by memory and was able to use this knowledge at the proper time. Learning the general rules of manners can be useful in understanding how to act in any given situation. And, then we must make the choice to follow those rules.

Having control over one’s emotions, body, and words is another level of executive function.

It is hard to follow the rules, when we let strong emotions control us.

Washington was remembered as a man of reason. He did not allow strong emotions to take control. He used his words to encourage others and not to hurt or belittle them. He faced battles with bravery and did not allow fear to affect his decisions. Choosing to use coping strategies and keep our feelings under control is another way to develop good executive function.

Learning from our successes and failures is one of the final steps in developing good executive function.

Washington was considered mature at a young age. He used his knowledge of math and skill in drawing to his advantage when he became a surveyor. He learned in his years in the military the strategies that worked to win battles. He was flexible and willing to learn new things and try them in different ways. He chose to do things the best way rather than the easy way.

Children can start young by making choices to develop good executive function. Having a well-trained mind, good self-control and flexiblity is important in gaining the life skills needed to be successful in life.

Books about George Washington:

 

GEORGE-isms: Rules George Washington Lived  by George Washington

George Washington’s World by Genevieve Foster

George Washington by Ingri and Edgar D’Aulaire

Who was George Washington? by Roberta Edwards

George Washington Games and Videos:

 

Apples for the Teacher has George Washington coloring pages, puzzles and games

Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery has a mystery game

The History Channel’s website has a short documentary about George Washington here.

*Images of George Washington, flag, and map courtesy of Wikipedia.

Uncategorized

25+ Fun Games for Rainy Days|Stuff to Do During a Hurricane #HurricaneIrma

Hurricane Fun

What to do when a category 5 Hurricane looms off of my beloved state of Florida?

  • Make a hurricane prep kit and gather resources
  • Pray
  • Try not to worry
  • Help our home to be a place of solace for the children

That’s what we can do before a hurricane. What about during? Or after?

Living in Florida my whole, long life, I’ve been through many of these storms. Most of the time, they happen at night, and by the grace of God, we sleep through it. This past hurricane season, we had a big one come our way, Hurricane Matthew. It was a miracle, he didn’t hit landfall as predicted, but skirted by the eastern coast.

With plenty of wind and rain from the outer bands, our family cuddled up in our master bedroom with sleeping bags surrounding our bed. The air purifiers, all running, drowned out most of the howling wind. But I was the only one who didn’t get any sleep.

Because I’m the mom.

Moms are innately vigilant to protect their families. Dads are, too, but my husband’s hearing must not be as good as mine. He slept as soundly as the children!

Even though Orlando is not a coastal city, we are not exempt from getting a direct hit. Hurricane Charlie, a Category 4 Hurricane blasted through our city, blowing off shingles and felling trees. I remember the sea of blue tarps that nearly everyone, including my own family used to cover our leaky roofs.

With no electricity, I got out our Rainy Day Box and we put together puzzles, played with toys, and read books we hadn’t seen in awhile.

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It helps to prepare for the worst, pray for the best and trust in the Almighty to bring us safely through whatever may happen. Worrying never changes anything, except our peace of mind.

In light of prepping, here’s some Rainy Day Fun and Games you can try with your family. My children helped me come up with this list, which brought smiles to their faces and eased their anxiety.

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  •  Make a Rainy Day Box stocked with favorite puzzles, mazes, crossword puzzles, word finds, interactive “I Spy” type picture books, and little toys to play with.

  • List books you love to read aloud, and be dramatic with the dialogue. My husband does an excellent Gandolf!

  • Now is the time to play those board games that take forever, like Monopoly, Life, and Rummikub.

  • Strategy games are way more exciting when played by candlelight, like Ticket to Ride, Settlers of Catan, and Risk.

  • Have a game relay. Set up four board games. Three minutes per game, then switch.

  • Time to teach the kids to play more card games besides Go Fish, War, and Crazy Eights. Hearts, Spades, Rummy take more time and thought.

  • Chess tournaments. It helps if you have more than one chess set.

  • Cuddle under blankets and make up stories (not too scary) over the flashlight.

  • Play charades with a theme (animals, famous people, movies, songs, etc.)

  • Sing campfire songs over candlelight with everyone attempting to play a musical instrument. We’ll be breaking out our ukuleles. Drums on a turned-over bowl works!

  • Do origami. You can find good instructions here.

  • Do scratch art. Color all over white cardstock and paint it black. Let the paint dry, then with a needle or sharp object, scratch a drawing.

  • Use calligraphy or fancy lettering to make cards for friends and family.

  • Make maps of the neighborhood and city.

  • Learn to sew on a button or even something more complicated.

  • Dance off using a battery-powered CD player.

  • Make a book with stapled together paper, complete with illustrations.

  • Do “$1.00 jobs” around the house (ask to sweep & mop floors, clean all windows, dust all baseboards).

  • Make a blanket fort. Forget about the mess and let your kids have some fun.

  • Have an indoor relay race (Cotton balls on spoons, jumping with a ball or balloon between legs, etc.)

  • Play library. Kids take turns being “librarian” and reading to siblings.

  • Perform a skit or puppet show.

  • Play with play dough or kinetic sand. My children could play an hour or more with this stuff.

  • Make molds of seashells or other interesting items in the playdough.

  • Play with magazine paper dolls.

  • Act out favorite Bible stories, parables, or Aesop fables.

  • Write, shoot, and edit a mini-movie with your camera or phone.

Don’t forget to prep some fun into your hurricane preparedness. It’ll ease your children’s anxiety and give everyone a little diversion from the storm.